The Snapping Turtle on the Sidewalk

It remembers a time before roads,
an antediluvian time when you were
not here, not even a memory or
a scent of you on the water. It knows
you are here now, and roads, cars,
armored things ready to crush
armored things with hooked beaks
and spiked tails. It remembers, too,
that the swamp on the other side
might hold ducklings, frogs, some
soft, unarmored creatures that
make it a worthwhile venture,
this slow crossing in a fast world.

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Paloma in the City: NaPoWriMo 2015, Day 22

She pieces the morning together,
this pigeon; I hear her beak
clack against the sidewalk
outside the city college
each time she tries to burst
a brittle plastic wrapper that holds
a few small crumbs of something.
I double back and offer her
a bit of crust from the leftover pizza
that I’ve brought for lunch.
And I wonder a few things:
If anyone saw, if I’m now part of
the Urban Pigeon Feeding Problem,
if I’m bound to get a ticket,
and also if it was best
to fill her stomach with dough.
But I gave her something—
what I had—and she seems
glad to take it, shaking free
one bite at a time as people
weave around her work.
The next day, I’ll recall
a drink I once had in Mexico:
tequila and grapefruit soda.
Paloma.

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He Pierces the Morning with Fresh Urgency: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge

In our courtyard,
in the tortured and trimmed
hawthorn tree, whose blossoms
send their stink into our front window
every early June,
a male cardinal puffs himself up
in a topmost branch
and sings so loudly,
so persistently,
that I worry that he’s calling
for his lost mate.
So often, you see them
first one and then the other;
when you spot the flash of red,
you know to look also for rosy brown,
winter, spring, summer, or fall.
And now there is only red,
and he pierces the morning with
fresh urgency.
Maybe it’s only an announcement:
This is my tree.
But then, where is she?
Maybe in the bushes below.
Maybe waiting until I go away,
until I stop watching and listening
for the answer to his call.

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If You Are Afflicted

If you are afflicted with pear blight,
you will feel it in your limbs. If you
fail to blossom, or if your blooms are
nipped, browned by an errant frost, then
you will have a silent, solitary spring,
visited neither by bees nor wasps, exempt
from the frenzy of making fruit. Take heart:
This may be only for one year, or two,
and you can still make leaves and talk
to yourself, bend in the wind or brace
against rain, which will still come (unless
there’s also a drought). You may be visited
by some manner of small, sucking bug.
If you have no blooms — if you’re not
making fruit — you might find there are
worse companions than these, worse ways
to pass a lonely season or two, or three.

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Also … Hey, I’m back! I took an extended Christmas break but will now resume the daily posts for a while.

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Hornbeam

Whatever else happened between the leaves
or in the hammock, Louise was not about
to stick around to find out. Norman told her
to come for a walk, so that’s what she did,
meeting him in the shade of the hornbeam
tree, admiring its catkins. She always liked it
when a man knew trees: Not just, Meet me
under that big, round shade tree
, but
Meet me under the hornbeam. Maybe
Meet me under the hornbeam, Dear
would be better. But there was time
enough for that, she thought, more than
enough evenings left in June, More
than enough Junes left for all that
.

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Winter’s Wing

Speaking of travel and snowy owls,
white wings of this weather,
the dishwater sky awaiting heavier
clouds than these, another round
of snow; we are pulled into
the polar vortex again and again.
It’s because we’re heating the seas,
making soup out of creatures
we have no interest in eating.
Still, there’s something about
winter again, the real winter,
how it puts you someplace else,
like the inside of a closet, muffled
and warm when your parents are
having a party, and you are a child.
The laughter and the clink of ice,
present, distant. It’s like that,
under winter’s wing—your blood
thick and quiet, hungry for meat.

 

 

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Fig Wasps

I tell you a tale as big as a kite,
and I fly it into your fig tree.

It rattles the wasps from their
work in your figs, their offices

of pollinating, egg-laying, death.
They are annoyed, and they sting

with the knowledge that
there’s no tale bigger than

their own. It is, they are certain,
the greatest story the sun ever told.

 

 

If it’s Tuesday p.m., check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.

 

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